Name: Bryon C. Von Holten
Title: Von Holten Grain Farm
Location: Cole Camp, MO.
Number Of Years No-Tilling: 12
Acres: 1,900 No-Tilled Crops: Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Canola, Sunflowers, Winter Rye as a cover crop
Believe it or not, my grandmother’s garden was the initial trigger that got me started with no-till. Back in the early 1990s, grandma moved to town about the time that I rented the 290-acre family dairy farm.
It was broken up into about 20 small patches of crops and pasture. While switching the whole farm into crops, I plowed across her old garden spot into an adjacent field of virgin sod. After many years of beating it up with a moldboard plow and rototiller, the garden area was like concrete. On the other hand, the unplowed sod was easy to penetrate and mellow, which got me to thinking about the damage we were doing with tillage.
I researched no-till the following winter, including discussions with a neighbor who ridge-tilled, but I concluded that ridge-tilling wouldn’t be compatible with my inconsistent slopes. I also attended the first National No-Tillage Conference that year and also met John Hoff, who lived about 50 miles east of my farm and had been no-tilling for 14 years. I was so impressed when I visited his operation that I literally tried to copy his no-till system.
Everything seemed to work well the first year that we stopped tilling. We added coulters and down pressure springs to our 6-row John…